Parktown coach: choking was only a joke
Alleged sex offender's line of defence emerges as schoolboys take the stand
He was only joking when he “choked” a 16-year-old boy.
This seemed to be the common thread in the defence of Parktown Boys High School boarding master Collan Rex, accused of molesting schoolboys.
His trial continued on Wednesday. As more evidence emerged against Rex, his lawyer’s cross-examination of his accusers gave an indication of how he planned to defend himself on some of the charges.
Rex is facing 183 counts, which include one of rape, 110 of attempted murder, 55 of sexual assault, seven of exposure of pornography to a child, two of sexual grooming and eight of assault.
Two weeks ago, he pleaded guilty to 144 counts of sexual assault against 12 of the 23 boys who are complainants in the sex scandal that has rocked the school.
Rex’s lawyer, William Robertse, first put a question to the first witness, a boy now aged 16, on why he would think Rex was trying to kill him when he choked him.
The boy said he did not think so, but explained the choking was uncomfortable.
“The incidents that you experienced, [Rex] was not intending to kill or assault you. He was trying to play jokes with you,” Robertse said.
The boy replied that whether they were jokes or not, he did not enjoy them at all.
Four of the witnesses who testified on Wednesday gave evidence of how Rex put them on a chokehold on a number of occasions.
One of the boys testified how Rex put his mouth on the boy’s genitals, and another testified how Rex watched pornographic videos with other boys.
Robertse also asked another witness, a boy who was 14 when he was allegedly choked by Rex in 2016, resulting in him fainting, whether Rex intended to kill him.
“The accused was not intending to kill you. He made an effort to wake you up when you passed out. Are these the actions of a person who intended to kill you?” Robertse asked.
The boy said no.
Another boy, now aged 16, who was also allegedly put in a headlock by Rex in 2014, testified that he saw Rex watching pornographic material with other boys at the school.
Robertse said Rex’s two Blackberry phones were confiscated and tested by a police expert, who did not find any traces of pornography.
“[Rex] disputes watching any pornography at the school and with any other people around him,” Robertse said. The boy said that was a lie.
The boy who testified that Rex put his mouth around his genitals for about 10 seconds in 2016 faced a barrage of questions from Robertse, who asked the boy why he did not mention the incident in the first statement the boy gave the police in February last year.
Robertse indicated Rex would testify that from March 2016, he was sharing a room with a fellow hostel master, and at night he was with the fellow boarding master and did not invite him.
The boy said that was false because the fellow boarding master joined the school after the incident.
“The accused denies ever giving you a massage and forcing oral sex on you,” Robertse said.
The trial continues.